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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds As we have seen in the lecture by Kim Knibbe, globalisation has created new opportunities for religious ideas and organisations to spread around the globe. Globalisation can, however, also have other effects. One reason why religion appears to be more strongly involved in present day conflicts concerns precisely the impact of globalisation on people and societies. While global movements of people, artefacts, and information have always existed, the speed, scale, and intensity of such movements have increased tremendously since the 20th century. Present day globalisation has brought about significant changes in the economic, political, and social relations between people. They have also resulted in a compression of time and space. The world is experienced by most as a smaller place than it was before.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds Big Macs and Coca-Cola, for example, are not neutral food products. Through them, new eating and drinking habits are introduced, influencing local consumption patterns which, in turn, may have an impact on social relations and local economies. Also, such foodstuffs are strongly branded, creating the desire for cosmopolitan lifestyles that may be realised by more affluent people, but remain beyond reach for those who are well less off. Such processes may increase the inequality between differ groups, putting those who lag behind in an ever more vulnerable and insecure position.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second Besides changing the structural dimension of security, globalisation processes can also have an emotional dimension. They may lead to feelings of alienation. And they may challenge the sense of ontological security of individuals, that is the fundamental sense of being safe in the world and the ability to trust other people. Ontological security, in other words, is the security of being, a sense of confidence that the world is what it appears to be. Ontological security depends on the extent to which one is able to believe that one’s understanding of the world and one’s place in that world is convincing. Ontological security is closely connected to self-identity. Self identity refers to individuals’ sense of biographical continuity.

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 seconds It concerns the capacity to develop a convincing narrative about the self, a narrative which provides answers to existential questions concerning ways of doing, feeling, and belonging. Identity is, therefore, not a fixed natural state of being, but a process of becoming. It demands an active, narrative construction of a personal sense of self, of one’s group memberships, and one’s place in the wider world. Due to globalisation, the number of people who lack the protective cocoon of social relations that link community members to each other and to groups in the past is increasing. Also, different kinds of sources from which to construct identity have multiplied. This means that it takes more biographical work to develop a convincing narrative about the self.

Skip to 4 minutes and 5 seconds As former conceptions of identity and belonging become less evident due to de-territorialization and compression of time and space, ontological insecurity increases. This can lead to existential anxiety.

Skip to 4 minutes and 23 seconds One way to cope with such existential anxiety is by the strategy of homesteading, that is creating social and emotional space for oneself, where one can keep the external influences outside as much as possible and relate to people who belong to one’s own group. Attempts to reduce existential anxiety by an intensified search for one stable identity can be observed among many people who see their daily lives change rapidly as new behavioural patterns, products, and power structures penetrate and change their local life worlds. Turning to religion can be of great help, both to individuals and groups, to decrease ontological insecurity, provide a basis for homesteading, and building a strong, clear identity.

Skip to 5 minutes and 19 seconds It supplies people with concrete temporal and spatial anchor points to develop a narrative that links the past, present, and future. It also provides a rich repertoire of stories, symbols, and practises that individuals and groups can draw on to formulate a sense of shared identity.

The impact of globalisation on identity - part 1

Globalisation has sometimes been described as a compression of space and time, where information travels much further and faster than it appeared to. This has a significant impact on the formation of people’s identities. In this video we discuss process of identity development and protection as a response to changing social, economic and political trends due to globalisation.

This video will introduce you to the first set of key concepts of identity formation such as ontological security and homesteading that will be used in future discussion.

Up for debate

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  • Globalisation is sometimes argued as a global homogenising force, given the content of this video do you agree with this notion? Why?

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Religion and Conflict

University of Groningen

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